“Please don’t waste this time” was the message to the UK from EU Council President, Donald Tusk back in April and whilst we seem to continue on in an endless episode of “Deal or No Deal” the political and administrative machine that is the EU wastes no time and rumbles on.
This week members from the EU's parliamentary committees met to elect chairmen and vice-chairs, following the inaugural meeting of the new EP and Tuesday’s election of committee coordinators. So business as usual in Brussels? Heather Lafferty from Chelgate takes a look at what we can expect from this new intake of legislators.
The Politics of ENVI
Renew and the Greens are set to be Kingmaker within the new EP. The Transport and Tourism (TRAN) and Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) committees, chaired by the Greens and Renew respectively, have a common agenda. Given that Renew is made up of environmentalists from ALDE and Macron's new MEPs, it’s likely the two will form alliances and Parliament will continue to insist upon the Commission for greater change.
While the Identity and Democracy (ID) group’s major bids fell flat due to manoeuvres to block the far-right group, Renew and the Green/EFA Group enjoyed notable success, winning the TRAN committee and the ENVI committee, which has been the subject of sustained focus since May's election that ended in a roaring victory for the Greens.
While it seems Brexit has been put on hold in the midst of EP elections, TRAN and ENVI have the potential to still impact on the UK. Reform to emissions regulation and increasing CO2 emissions targets may all be on the table.
The EP has demonstrated it’s not afraid to pressure the Commission for change, and this trend is bound to continue, given the common goals Renew and the Greens share.
That ENVI is now the EP’s largest committee - with 74 members - sending a clear signal that change is afoot, with a new focus on health and the climate. Such ambitions won’t be without challenge, however, as the EP’s energy committee has previously taken a cautious approach on fighting climate change.
ENVI is set to be chaired by Renew liberal Pascal Canfin with the Greens acting as first vice-chair. It is expected that Canfin, an environmentalist in French President Macron's Renaissance group, will seek to form alliances with Greens as he hopes to leave his stamp on the ENVI committee.
The Renew group, consisting primarily of the experienced ALDE group and Macron’s fresh-faced new MEPs, are sure to leave a mark as the French president’s chair Canfin will be pushing for stronger commitments on climate action, a core priority for Macron.
It IS Easy Being Green
Meanwhile, the Greens’ Karima Delli has been re-elected as chair of TRAN. Given that the TRAN and ENVI committees tend to clash – usually due to ENVI pressuring for more aggressive climate policy – this could place the Greens and Renew in a position to mediate.
Despite the rise of populist parties in the recent European elections, it’s Renew and the Greens who will be acting as powerbrokers within the new Parliament. As it stands, the current dynamics of Renew and Greens seems to indicate that they have an agreed vision, which means only one thing: for the first time, ENVI and TRAN may work together harmoniously.
In short, the current state of Europe may not simply be a rise in populism, but rather a move towards a green renew(al).
by Heather Lafferty